Monday, October 23, 2017

ELL vocabulary - island

Because of the islands in the Caribbean Sea getting devastated by hurricanes in the fall of 2017, today's word is island.

An island, according to the OED, is "a piece of land completely surrounded by water."  The largest island in the world is Greenland:

See how the Atlantic Ocean completely surrounds Greenland?  One of the smallest islands in the world is Bishop Rock, off the coast of England:

Islands are isolated from the rest of the land by the sea that surrounds them--or perhaps I should say the water, because there are islands in freshwater lakes as well as in the ocean.  One common trope (or idiom) in English is the idea of being "marooned on a desert island."  This does not mean being left on an island that gets very little fresh water:

Here the word "desert" means deserted, as in "Forsaken, abandoned, left desolate."  The idea of being marooned on a desert island is to indicate that one is isolated from all human civilization, not that one is slowly (or quickly) dying of thirst.  So a common question to someone might be, "If you were marooned on a desert island, what three books would you bring with you?"  

Remember, this is all you will have to read until the end of your days or until you're rescued, whichever comes first:

I know I would bring The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Norton Anthology of British Literature, and then some third, as yet un-named book.

If you were marooned on a desert island, which is to say marooned on a deserted island, what three books would you bring with you?

The English Avocado

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